The Cherokee Nation is again providing funding through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for eligible Cherokees and other Native Americans this winter.

“It is a blessing that the Cherokee Nation is able to provide more assistance to families this year,” said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.  “In past years we have been able to assist approximately 1,700 applicants through the Cherokee Nation LIHEAP program. This year, with additional federal funds, we anticipate helping many more.”

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that serves low income households who need assistance for their home energy bills. The program encourages priority be given to those with the “highest home energy needs, meaning low income households with a high energy burden or the presence of a vulnerable individual in the household, such as a young child, disabled person or frail older individual.

This year, the Cherokee Nation received additional funding for the program, allowing for an increase in the income for those eligible for assistance.  Income eligibility levels are based on income plus the number of persons residing in your home.  Income eligibility this year cannot exceed poverty level plus 50 percent, whereas the amount has traditionally been poverty level plus 10 percent.  For example, a household of two cannot have combined incomes totaling more than $1,750 per month, or $21,000 per year, and a household of four cannot have combined incomes of more than $2,650 per month or $31,800 per year. For complete income eligibility guidelines, please contact the Family Assistance Program.

“We are excited about this year’s program and are happy we will be able to assist more of our citizens with the increased funds,” said Jerry Snell, Cherokee Nation Director of Family Assistance.

Snell said LIHEAP payments are also provided by other area agencies; however, a household can only legally receive services through one agency. To be eligible, a person must reside within the tribal jurisdiction of the Cherokee Nation, have a CDIB card, show proof of income for the previous three months, show proof of residency and provide energy vendor.  Payments will be made to the vendor in recipient’s name.  Priority will be given to elders and families with children under the age of five.  Applications will be accepted from December 1, 2008 through January 2, 2009.  Applications for crisis situations will be accepted beginning January 5, 2009.  For more information, contact Janet Ward, Cherokee Nation LIHEAP Coordinator, at (918) 453-5327.